Cycling The tireless tyre trends at the Tour of Flanders
In the tubeless era, clinchers and tubulars still have their place. We look at the different tyre types and widths in use at "De Ronde."
part one of our Tour of Flanders tech galleries, we took a look at some of the more random tech from “Vlaanderen’s mooiste” (Flanders’ most beautiful). In part two we take a deep dive into the tyre choices for De Ronde.
Until relatively recently, the 25 mm tubulars teams rolled out for Flanders were considered standard. In 2023, 28 mm seemed the most common tyre size, but in a sign of the times, teams are experimenting with 30 mm and – in training at least – even 32 mm widths. How times have changed.
Anyway, here are some of the tyres that caught our eyes in the Flanders paddock.
The Vittoria teams almost all raced with the Italian brand’s new Corsa Pro Graphene Cotton Tech tyres. The Team DSM riders opted for the 30 mm wide variant of the new tyre. We have requested more information from Vittoria on the new tyres and will bring that to you as and when we can. Two things we do know, the new tyres are tubeless compatible because 2023 and officially hookless compatible. Jumbo-Visma riders did their Flanders recon on 30 mm Corsa Pros but all the race days bikes we seen had switched down to the 28 mm stamped tyres. The green paint on the valve nut acts as a quick reference for mechanics to indicate which wheels have tyre liner inserts installed. EF also run Vittoria tyres, but with just this simple “Vittoria” hot patch. Unlike the other new Vittorias we have seen, EF’s tyres had no Corsa Pro branding or tubeless compatibility details. It is unclear if these are the same tyres with different branding, as they appear, or an entirely different tyre/compound. Both Lotto Dstny men’s and women’s squads race with Vittoria tyres also. While the men had the new tubeless tyres on DT Swiss wheels, the women had opted for Corsa Control tubular tyres. Sanne Cant of Fenix–Deceuninck raced on Vitttoria’s Corsa Control. With a thicker graphene tread and a textured shoulder, the Control is said to offer improved puncture protection and grip in slippery conditions. EF Education-TIBCO-SVB riders opted for Vittoria tubulars on the race bikes and … Tubeless on the spare bikes. The Specialized teams are keeping us guessing all spring, and Flanders was no different with seemingly every possible sponsor-correct wheel and tyre combo option on show. AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step ran these tan walled Turbo S-Works tubeless tyres on Roval Rapide CLX II wheels. Bora-Hansgrohe had a similar setup, opting for the black version of the tubeless Turbo tyres. Soudal-Quickstep opted for a mix of Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX (not II) wheelsets with the brands famous “Turbo Cotton Hell of the North” clincher tyres. The clincher-only wheelsets, identifiable by the valve stem location offset by 45° to the ROVAL logo, are marginally lighter than the otherwise identical but tubeless compatible CLX II wheelsets. I guess if you are going to run a clincher setup, you might as well use the lighter wheels. The Hell of the North tyres are a cobbled-classics staple of the past half-decade. Team TotalEnergies ran a similar Hell of the North : Rapide CLX setup. Lotte Kopecky and the SD Worx squad raced to first and second with the Roval CLX50 tubular wheels and Specialized tubs. Given 2023 is SD Worx first year on Roval wheels, the team’s decision to race with this older wheelset seemingly demonstrates Specialized’s willingness to let teams choose whichever setup it determines best meets its needs for a given race. SD Worx had previously raced with Zipp wheels, who continue in the Women’s WorldTour with Team Movistar and Canyon SRAM. We spotted 30 mm Continental GP 5000 S TR tubeless tyres on the Movistar men’s team bikes, while Annemiek van Vleuten’s wheels were wrapped with 28 mm GP 5000 S TR tyres. Jayco-AlUla are another team running Vittoria tyres, and Michael Matthews 30 mm Corsa Control tyres seem almost to max out the clearance on the new Giant Propel. Matthews was riding these Corsa Controls on Cadex’s new Ultra 50 tubeless wheels. While Luke Durbridge raced with a tubular version of the same new Cadex Ultra wheelset. AG2R Citroën were the only team in the 2023 Tour of Flanders racing with Campagnolo equipment. The entire squad opted for an interesting wheelset and tyre combination. Upfront the entire squad opted for the Campagnolo Bora WTO 45 2-Way fit wheels fitted with Pirelli’s P-Zero Race TLR tubeless tyres. So 2023, you might say. But out back the team had opted for Campagnolo’s Bora One tubular wheels fitted with Pirelli’s tubular tyres. A team staff member explained that the riders preferred the tubulars at the rear for the steeper climbs in potentially slippery conditions. The staff member wasn’t entirely sure on why but suggested it may have been down to tyre pressure as the rubber compound is the same in both tyre types. The Trek-Segafredo men’s squad were another team running a mix of tubulars and tubeless setups. Both Pedersen and Stuyven, among others, went with the tubular options. On the women’s side of the garage, the Trek Segafredo women unanimously decided upon Pirelli P-Zero Race TLR as the best option for Flanders. I tend to agree. More on Elisa Balsamo’s bike, seen here in “Smoke Grey” in an upcoming gallery. Q36.5 are another team racing Pirelli tyres and tested various setups during their recon. The team tested 28 mm, 30mm, and 32 mm, with and without inserts. Ultimately deciding on 28s without the inserts. Intermarché – Circus – Wanty also races with Continental tyres but threw a new option into the Tour of Flanders mix in selecting the new GP 5000 AS (All Season) TR. Taco van der Hoorn opted for the NewMen R65 wheelset. More on Taco’s bike in an upcoming gallery. The Continental GP 5000 S TR was as popular as ever over on the Ineos Grenadiers Pinarellos. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and the FDJ-Suez squad race on the S TRs also, with the tan sidewalls almost clashing with the fade to brown on Uttrup Ludwig’s custom painted Xelius SL. Stay tuned for more on this custom paint job in the days to come. Canyon-SRAM and Uno X Pro Cycling both raced on Schwalbe Pro One tyres. Kasia Niewiadoma’s bike is seen here with Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels wrapped with tubeless 28 mm tyres from Schwalbe. We of course could not do a tyre article without mentioning both winners, Pogačar raced to victory on GP5000 S TR 30 mm tyres setup tubeless on Enve’s SES 4.5. We have a full gallery of Pogi’s bike here. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent